Brunhilde Blum, a convincing performance delivered by Anna Maria Muhe in the Netflix series “Woman of the Dead,” is a layered character juggling between the extreme ends of the emotional scale. She can be called practical, considering the way she approached the sudden death of her husband, Mark. While her family members were grieving his death, she was determined to seek revenge. Her need for revenge can also be interpreted as her way of denying herself the time to grieve over her loss and dive into what needed to be done. Blum barely processed her emotions, and revenge was her way of pouring in the rage, sadness, and love that she experienced.
Blum was an undertaker, and her job required her to spend time with the dead. She carried out her duties with ease, and somehow the silence in the room helped her think straight. She would often talk to the bodies, imagining them to be alive. She developed this practice at a young age when her father forced her to learn his trade. She was an adopted child, and her parents were ruthless and strict. She was made to sleep in a coffin when she refused to perform her role as an undertaker. As she was lying inside the coffin, she peered out and noticed that the body lying on the table was interacting with her. Initially, she was scared of her own imagination, but she soon learned that she must be afraid of the living instead of the dead. The dead bodies could not harm her; they were under her control, and she could contour them as she pleased. It was the human beings around her who could destroy the world of comfort she had built.
At the age of 19, Blum murdered her parents. She could not tolerate anyone who destroyed her peace or tried to control her in any way. We can assume that the time she spent in the orphanage taught her to look out for herself and rip apart anyone who made her doubt her existence. Killing her parents was a selfish act, and Blum was aware that no amount of justification could help her cause. She chose to make the murder look like an accident to get away with the crime, and so she did. When her parents got off the boat to swim in the sea, she removed the stairs. She plugged in her earphones and increased the volume to avoid listening to the helpless cries of her parents. She wanted them to die, and while they screamed for help, she found the peace that she had started to miss in her life. Blum staring down at the drowned bodies of her parents while she listened to music is a haunting visual. There was a calm on her face that came from a sense of reassurance that they would never be able to harm her again.
Blum fell in love with Mark, a policeman who knew that the woman he was in love with had murdered her parents. But Mark did not question her for her action; he simply wanted honesty from her. He always tried to understand the reason behind the choices one makes in life, and he did the same with Blum. Mark’s love for Blum seemed unconditional, and when that source of affection and affirmation was taken away from her, she could only think of revenge. Mark belonged in her space of comfort and peace, and she experienced a similar amount of rage, if not more than she had done when her parents were alive. Massimo pointed out how the act of revenge was a selfish act. While she believed that she was seeking justice for her husband, she was also satisfying her thirst for vengeance and expressing her anger by killing one perpetrator after another. The series leaves it up to the audience to decide whether Blum is a cold-blooded murderer or a vengeful revenge seeker.
The moment she started riding Mark’s motorcycle was the day she resolved that she cared about nothing but revenge. She was risking her life and the lives of her family members but grieving over her husband’s death while the perpetrators were living their lives was not something Blum was ready to accept. She had tried seeking the help of the police, but their reluctance to solve the case made her furious. When Dunja informed her that Mark preferred keeping the police out of the case, she further realized that the police were not on their side. Blum was challenging the most powerful people in town, and she could trust no one but herself in the process. By murdering the perpetrators, she was able to unravel the mystery that Mark died uncovering. She also brought justice to the uncountable young women who were murdered by the five. Blum was cold in some instances and maddeningly driven by emotions in others. She was unpredictable and extremely daring to face the unexpected. She knew that she could have died in the process of finding the truth, but she did not care about her life. She wanted to live only when she could shut down the noise that troubled her and the people she loved. Her daughter looked down upon her for her lack of emotion after the death of Mark, but only Blum knew what she was dealing with. She did not crave her daughter’s respect; the only thing she wanted was to protect her children. She was a mother, a wife, an undertaker, and most important, an individual with a strong sense of bringing balance to the world she was living in.
At the end of “Woman of the Dead,” Blum expresses her desire to live in peace. She was aware that she could not single-handedly bring down the Schonborn empire, but she was in a position to demand to exist in peace with her family. She was able to bring down the chaos that had suddenly taken over her world by murdering all the men involved in the death of her husband. She was not someone who would be unsettled by the weight of her conscience after the many bodies she dismembered. She once told Reza that she would sleep like a rock once she knew that she had killed those who intended to harm her family. Blum was a woman filled with contradictions, but what remained stable was her sense of becoming the protector of the people who made up her world.